Little Dragon wants to dance.
Its clear that with Ritual Union, the Swedish electro-pop soulsters have evolved. No longer are they the band of “Twice, and “After The Rain”. They are the band of eccentric midnight raves and four on the floor beats.
With any band, the early adopter audience will scoff, but with the band playing 1000+ venues now (including headlining New Yorks enormous Terminal 5), an update to their sound was necessary, whether we like it or not. But I noticed this when I saw them at Music Hall of Williamsburg last year–their music is fuller and their live show is more dynamic than ever, and it’s no doubt a result of their more up-tempo sound.
Thankfully the band has found away to go pop without changing their style. Songs like “Ritual Union” and “Little Man” will be heard on dance floors around the world, and remixes will fill my inbox until the end of time. But its all good. Their off-kilter beats remain, and Yukimi’s neo-neo-soul voice has not changed a bit, and she has gotten way more confident in her role as a front woman. The production has gotten more complex and layered, sounding more professional and shedding the more DIY sound of previous efforts.
Yes, I’m biased (I’ve worked with and followed this band for ages) but I do feel that the band has mastered the delicate balancing act of trying to expand their fanbase while keeping their core fans happy. Is Ritual Union as memorable as their first album? Not at all. But it’s a clear evolution for a tiny band from Sweden. If you’re a new fan you will be pleased at said evolution. If you’re an old fan, Yukimi and company invite you to grow with the band.
4.5 out of 5